Research notes – Beneath the surface

The following comments are made on the blog entry “Beneath the Surface” at the We Are OCA website (1)

The blog entry provides a good introductory analysis of Jeff Wall’s Insomnia (link)(2). For me, and without having had the advantage of looking at the original, there are a number of allegorical elements inserted by Wall in the image that are worth mentioning. At the centre of the scene we have a table, and on top of it we have what appears to be an ashtray and next to it we have a salt shaker. Right behind it, we have the cooker with a pan on and, what appears to be a plate with butter next to a mini oven. There are some studies that link a diet rich in salt with sleeping problems (3), while smoking can also cause insomnia given that nicotine is an stimulant (4). Butter usually is associated with rich foods and these are also associated with insomnia (4). I wonder if Wall’s inclusion of all these elements was meant to signify that in many cases our health problems are self inflicted, product of our lifestyles…Or it may also be that I am simply reading this based on my own experience: I do not normally suffer from insomnia, but in recent weeks I have made a conscious decision to change certain bad habits that I suspected of causing me health difficulties.

(1) #weareoca. 2018. Beneath the surface. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 April 2018].
(2) Tate. 2018. Jeff Wall: room guide, room 6 | Tate . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 April 2018].
(3) The Paleo Diet™. 2018. Easy With That Salt Shaker: The Effect of Dietary Salt On Sleep . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 April 2018].
(4) What Causes Insomnia? – Insomnia. 2018. What Causes Insomnia? – Insomnia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 April 2018].


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